Ode to Freedom
Gone are the loyalty and common sense, the times are astray and crook
Thus, with dignity we have resigned and privileges we forsook
Those who consider themselves human do not grow weary of serving
The virtuous, facing oppression, remain not idly observing
Though in dismay the nation mourns, presume not it shall dim its glory
To fall on the ground for a gold coin is not depreciatory
The yeast and the dough of our bodies derive from the homeland’s soil
When, for the sake of it, we revert to its bosom we shall not spoil
The aide of the tyrants in the world are always the base and debauched
Only the hound enjoys serving the cruel hunter, at his side crouched
Those who value a noble life over the charming beauty of fame
Relinquish the temporary grace for the everlasting acclaim
Why do people esteem the length of the life so highly? I know not
By safekeeping the God’s escrow a little longer they do earn naught!
He who is not ashamed of himself but of being despised by men
Sees his humble self lower than all the others, in my acumen
For those who grasp it, verily ‘tis our vengeance on Fate, to inflame
Our endeavors with determination and to be taught by our shame
The verdict of triumph lies within the unity of people’s hearts
The wonders of benevolence are born where variance in thought starts
The might of the unyielding treads the world with grandeur and gallantry
Whither he goes the earth beneath his feet trembles upon his entry
Fortune awaits the moment to unveil its favor and benison
Do not despair because of the weakness and languor of the nation
If the enchained lion’s claws are fragile, how should it be its disgrace?
May Fate be ashamed for the misfortune of the gallant, you do brace!
For, if the light is far from its apogee, it is compelled to be
Nature itself should be ashamed of the wasted talent in the sea
We are descended from the exalted essence of the Ottomans
From head to toe our flesh is conceived of the blood of our allegiance
We are the benignant family of endeavor and devotion
That created a world power from a small tribe amidst commotion
For we are the highborn, in the battlefield of honor ever-proud
The stain of humiliation is worse than the blood stain on the shroud
Grieve not even though the fight for freedom is full of frightening flames
The brave never flees to save his puny life nor honor he defames
Even though the rope of the garrotter is a relentless dragon
Far better than the collar of a slave and shackles of a felon
Let Fate bring forth all its means of agony and unleash upon me
Should I falter from a single struggle of nation, my name damned be!
May the anguish and grief I have suffered in the course they remember
For its humble bliss is better than being a government member
What a naughty and spoilt wench the homeland turned into, she imposes
On her most loyal lovers the gloom of exile and painful loses
Yet neither shall I beg, nor shall I fear; no torment makes me relent
My duty is above my gains, my rights are above the government
O tyrant! Cower from the coming clash with the nation’s brave youth
Our blood shall melt the sword of your oppression. Our skin shall break your tooth
Is it possible to annihilate the freedom by tyranny?
It is, should you be able to quell reason in a way uncanny
The ore of this endeavor in our hearts is tougher than the diamond
Neither weight shall crush it, nor your force shall break, for the sake of homeland!
What a charm you laid upon us, o, the sweet face of Lady Freedom
Though we are freed of slavery, your love enslaved us beneath your dome!
Now the power to beguile our hearts is in you, veil not thy beauty!
To never fade from our horizon is now your eternal duty!
O, Hope, our hope for the future, what a hearty lover you have been
You are, she who delivered us, and the world, from the grief and the pain
Now thy time has come to reign, o Lady, spread your rule over the world
May God deliver thee from evil, may He bless your banner unfurled!
The meadows you once wandered is now left to the hounds of the tyrant
Awake! Awake, o, wounded lion, from this slumber of a vagrant!
Original: “Hürriyet Kasidesi” by Namık Kemal, 19th century Turkish poet
Translated by: M. Bahadırhan Dinçaslan